A (RELATIVE) BARGAIN $2.89? Really? Eat your heart out, out-of-staters. And residents resist a higher gas tax, unchanged for years.
Nate Schweber - NY Times - April 13, 2008
GIBBY LEWIS didn’t mind sitting in his white Ford S.U.V. in the middle of Bloomfield Avenue in the back of a line waiting for gas at the Impor Tech station near the center of town.
It was, after all, the cheapest gas station in the state, or it was for at least one day recently, according to the popular Web site newjerseygasprices.com. The Web site is one of the many tools motorists are turning to in their desperate efforts to find cheaper gas as the prices keep going up, faster, it seems, than traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike. The list of cheapest stations, compiled with the help of people who write in from all over the state, of course changes constantly.
Impor Tech was selling regular unleaded gas for the bargain price of $2.89 that day. Not that Mr. Lewis, 59, believed he was getting a deal.
“Regular?” asked the station attendant, Sergiy Suvorou, 28.
“Of course regular,” hollered the former Marine and father of three who recently took a second job to help cauterize the wound in his wallet made by his gas tank. Who can afford premium?
In a nation where some states could see the price of gas eclipse $4 a gallon this summer, New Jersey’s prices are often among the lowest in the nation, according to AAA, the automobile club, a fact that might surprise many from outside this region. In New Jersey — far from the oil fields of Texas or Alaska but where people love their cars and motorists buy 11 million gallons of gas daily — many stations still sell unleaded gasoline for a price that begins with a 2, not a 3.
The prices are lower here for a variety of reasons, one being that many of the state’s 4,000 stations are independently owned and drive up competition, which drops prices. Another is that New Jersey is flush with refineries and gasoline infrastructure like fuel pipelines and deep harbors to import petroleum from around the world.
But probably the biggest reason is that New Jersey has the nation’s third-lowest gasoline tax, at 14.5 cents a gallon, and it hasn’t gone up in almost two decades.
When Gov. Jon S. Corzine proposed raising tolls earlier this year — something that New Jersey residents have told him time and again they do not want — Assemblyman John S. Wisniewski, a Democrat and chairman of the Transportation and Public Works Committee, proposed smaller toll increases as well as an increase in the gas tax.
That idea is also not popular with New Jersey residents, who are already contending with rising property tax bills and other increasing fees associated with living in the state.
Patricia Streater, 36, a Camden resident and gift shop clerk at Cooper University Hospital, recently handed a $10 bill to an employee at a Hess station in her hometown for three and a third gallons of regular gas for her red Chrysler convertible.
“Ten bucks’ worth is the new five bucks’ worth,” she said… [Read More]